PERFORMING ARTS

Laugh Lines: My Life Helping Funny People Be Funnier

Abrams. Apr. 2020. 336p. ISBN 9781419735288. $27. TV
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Zweibel was lucky enough to have been hired by Lorne Michaels to work on the first season of Saturday Night Live, where he wrote for five groundbreaking years. But in this lively memoir, Zweibel stresses that a writer’s life is governed by more than luck—passion and persistence through sometimes hilariously spectacular failures are vital, as are endless rewrites. The author recounts his humble beginnings writing set ups and punch lines for aging Borscht Belt comics at seven dollars a joke. He went on to earn four Emmys and a CableACE Award for his television work; a Tony Award for the play 700 Sundays, which he cowrote and produced with longtime friend Billy Crystal; and a Thurber Prize for his novel The Other Shulman. Though Zweibel punctuates his narrative with humor, he holds nothing back when reflecting on dark times in his life and career, among them the death of his soulmate comedian Gilda Radner and the unexpected passing of collaborator Gary Shandling.
VERDICT This funny, wise, and touching memoir will resonate with fans of comedy and anyone seeking an intimately told life story.

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